THE world’s first compound semiconductor cluster will address an ‘imbalance’ of opportunities in south east Wales – despite a regional ‘skills deficit’.

Authorities aligned to the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal want their own ‘Silicon Valley’ to grow from their initial investment in a high-tech production plant in Newport.

Thousands of jobs are expected from the £38.5 million IQE facility and the wider cluster, with Monmouthshire council leader Peter Fox assuring that prosperity would reach all 10 authorities.

Campaign Series: The agreement with IQE to move into the former LG site in Newport was signed by the Welsh and UK Governments and council leaders in 2017The agreement with IQE to move into the former LG site in Newport was signed by the Welsh and UK Governments and council leaders in 2017

Speaking to the City Deal joint overview and scrutiny committee, he said: “There’s an imbalance across south east Wales in that there is a significant lack of opportunities, particularly in the north.

“A lot has been based around the M4 corridor but there’s something in it for everyone. Compound semiconductors are the fastest growing part of the industry. There is only a positive future for it.”

IQE says 75 per cent of the roles at its foundry, which is leased by the councils through their company CSC Foundry, have been recruited from eight of 10 areas within the City Deal.

READ MORE: First staff start work at Newport site supplying global tech-brands

But the City Deal’s director, Kellie Beirne, revealed there had been trouble recruiting some of the roles.

“Some of the people we are looking for are scarce as there’s a lot of competition across the UK labour markets,” said Ms Beirne.

Campaign Series: Kellie Beirne, programme director of the Cardiff Capital Region City DealKellie Beirne, programme director of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal

“We have to make sure to focus on turning people onto technology, and that means targeting children and young people.”

Cllr Fox added: “There is a skills deficit. Some of the qualifications sought after by IQE can’t be delivered in many of our establishments.”

Members raised concerns about IQE’s falling share prices and the question of funding after Brexit. Ms Beirne told members that CSC Foundry, and the councils behind it, were not shareholders in IQE.

Campaign Series: IQE's headquarters in St MellonsIQE's headquarters in St Mellons

Meanwhile, Cardiff councillor Ramesh Patel claimed a confidential Wales Audit Office report on CSC Foundry had been ‘critical’ of some of its financial aspects.

Ms Beirne said the report, which will be available on February 18, should be released without redactions, adding: “There’s absolutely nothing to hide.”

Other issues included the marketing of the cluster, with Cllr Fox admitting it had been ‘weak’.

Cllr Patel said: “[IQE] is a major company that should have marketing skills and if they can’t get marketing, it’s a serious flaw.”

Newport councillor Majid Rahman added: “The plant is next to a housing estate and I doubt the people living there don’t even know what’s going on there.”